A new measurement for physical play 

May, 4, 2011

Jim Hofher has spent 30 seasons as a head coach and assistant. He has worked for, among others, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Syracuse Orange, North Carolina Tar Heels and Tennessee Volunteers. The guy coached and played in the Ivy League. He was also the head coach at Buffalo and Cornell, his alma mater, where he was the starting quarterback for then-coach George Seifert.

Hofher, who is now the offensive coordinator at FCS powerhouse Delaware (12-3 in 2010), is one of the most intelligent men in the business. When I ran the "Stats That Matter" platform by him, he responded with his best barometer, a stat that seems to get to the essence of the game of football.

"We count 'knockdowns' by all offensive players, as it is not only effective as a blocker or runner, but it promotes the pursuit for physical play," Hofher said. "The games we had with the fewest knockdowns were losing games."

Delaware is a one-back team, so they don't have a fullback or very much lead blocking. They'll cut some defenders and obviously all coaches love to see "pancakes." Hofher says each of his position coaches have their own competitions among their players and come up with their own point systems -- three points for this kind of knockdown block, two points for that kind of block, six points if they get the block that springs a long touchdown play, etc. But in his own system, it's simple: put a defender on the ground, chalk up one point for the offense.

"It's our attempt to make them understand how physical they have to play," Hofher said. "If you talk about [knockdowns] but don't count them, it loses its effect."